Nwezeh Kingsley in Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) thursday said intelligence agencies, including the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Department of State Services (DSS) have launched a manhunt for the sponsors of Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) terror groups to speed up end to the insurgency.
It, however, noted that it is not part of the responsibilities of the military to uncover the sponsors of terrorist groups but to fight and defeat them.
The 10-year-long insurgency is believed to have lasted this long due to financial and logistical supports offered to Boko Haram and other terror franchisees by sponsors from within and outside the country.
There have been allegations that some stakeholders in the war have turned it to a booming business thus making it difficult to end the hostilities.
Briefing journalists thursday in Abuja, Coordinator of Directorate of Defence Media Operations (DDMO), Maj-Gen. John Enenche, said intelligence agencies had launched a manhunt for sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria and other foreign collaborators.
Eneche said even though the military was aware that the groups were being sponsored, it would not shirk in its duty to defeat the terrorists, adding that its priority is not to uncover their source of funding or sponsorship.
He said that it is the duty of the NIA and the DSS to find out and disclose the identities of those sponsoring the terrorists and other criminal gangs in the country.
“Our focus has been on arresting them and handing them over to intelligence agencies. We provide kinetic support.
“For sponsors, I would not say much because that is being handled at a higher level. Logical intelligence shows there are sponsors but that is beyond the military,” he explained.
Enenche stated that collaboration between the military and other security agencies would ensure the capture of terror sponsors.
“We don’t know their sponsors. If it is possible, we will know. It is for the NIA and DSS. For us, the military, we are concerned with the trenches and frontlines.
“But however long it takes, I know we will get them. I know there are intelligence processes that are ongoing to track them down,” he added.
Responding to a question on why the military had not flushed out insurgents from Sambisa Forest, Enenche said: “The collaborators, a good number of them, are our people. That is how they will remain until they are mopped up. It is just like saying when will all diseases be eradicated?
“The kind of weapons these terrorists are using like the gun truck and other sophisticated weapons are expensive, and how much are they stealing to procure those arms that we have to say that they are sponsored and heavily funded?
“But like I said, it is not the duty of the military to uncover the sponsors. Our duty is to remain in the frontline and defeat terrorism and other criminality and that is what we are doing.”
However, while giving updates on ongoing military operations, he noted that “in the North-east, troops of Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD) recorded commendable results in the past two weeks. During the period under review, troops conducted several operations at various locations, which led to the neutralisation of terrorists, destruction of their equipment and structures as well as recovery of various items.
“Between 18 and 30 June 2020, the Air Task Force of OPLD conducted intensive air strikes to mark the launching of its subsidiary Operation Long Reach along the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State following concerted intelligence surveillance reconnaissance missions.
“The air operations led to the destruction of a BHT tactical command centre housing some of their high-value leaders and neutralised several of their fighters at Garin Maloma and Yuwe villages. Additionally, airstrikes conducted at Buka Korege, Bula Bello, Ngoske, Tongule, Bukar Meram and Warshale villages led to the destruction of several BHT locations and gun trucks while scores of fighters were effectively neutralised.”
In addition, the military chief stated that troops on operations in Borno State repelled terror attacks between June 24 and 25, killing two of them and recovering two AK-47 rifles, two hand grenades, some ammunition, two rocket-propelled guns and unexploded ordnances.
“While the Armed Forces of Nigeria reinvigorates and intensifies her operational activities in the theatre in the North-east, it has not relented in its non-kinetic operations. These activities are evident in the civil-military cooperation activities provided at various quarters by the Nigerian military, including the continued provision of medical outreach to IDPs by the military. These activities led to improved civil-military relations, thereby enhancing the provision of information to security agencies, which resulted in the remarkable successes recorded in the recent past in the North-east zone,” he said.